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Whatcha doing this weekend? If you’re in North America, South America, parts of western Europe or Africa, you can catch a glimpse of what people are calling the “Super Blood Wolf Moon” – a rare astronomical occurrence combining two unrelated events: a total lunar eclipse and a super moon.
The eclipse will begin Sunday evening, January 20, and last for a total of three hours and 17 minutes. Totality — the total eclipse of the moon — will occur between 11:41pm EST and 12:43am EST the following morning. Unlike solar eclipses, which can fry your eyeballs, lunar eclipses can safely be viewed with the naked eye.
Of course, the Super Blood Wolf Moon coincides with one of the worst blizzards of 2019 thus far, Winter Storm “Harper”, as well as overcast conditions in many parts of the western United States, so many Americans may need to resort to tracking the eclipse through their computer monitors instead via TimeandDate.com’s live feed.
The southern states most likely will have the clearest view of the night-sky phenomenon, according to Accuweather, which also predicts clear skies for parts of Central and South America.
Assuming your local airport hasn’t been compromised by the blizzard, diehard eclipse chasers stuck in poor-weather locales might consider flying to one of the clear-sky regions for a better chance of a firsthand view of Super Blood Wolf Moon. As of now, Accuweather forecasts relatively clear weather in parts of Texas, up through Kentucky and the South Carolina coast. For more exotic destinations, astronomy geeks should consider Paraguay and Uruguay as well as parts of Chile, Argentina and Brazil, for the best possible weather.
Just to get the creative juices flowing, and assuming weather cooperates enough for planes to depart, New Yorkers could fly to somewhere like Houston to see the Super Blood Wolf Moon, which currently has weather predictions for clear skies Sunday night, for $337 round-trip on United via Newark, or for 25,000 United MileagePlus miles.
Weighing the value of your points against the rarity of another super moon total eclipse occurring again sometime soon? Super moons and total lunar eclipses only occur in conjunction about 20 times per hundred years, according to Harvard University astronomy educator Patricia Udomprasert: The next one won’t occur until May 26, 2021.
And how exactly did the “Super Blood Wolf Moon” get its moniker, you ask? “Super” refers to the fact that the moon will be at the closest point of its Earth orbit Sunday night — a scant 222,274 miles away from our planet. (For context, TPG‘s editor-at-large, Zach Honig, flew 223,864 miles in 2018.) A total lunar eclipse occurs when Earth passes directly between the sun and the moon, and the “Blood” part of the name comes from the color of the deep red shadow Earth casts upon the moon’s surface. And finally, the event gets the “Wolf Moon” part of its name from a nickname that some Native American tribes bestow upon a January full moon, according to Farmers’ Almanac, due to the fact that wolves tended to howl more at the moon at this time of winter.
For those who just can’t get enough, Space.com published a Complete Guide to the Super Blood Wolf Moon here.
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Featured photo courtesy of NASA/Rami Daud.
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